Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty of dozens of charges relating to him sexually abusing boys he was supposedly mentoring. His adopted son claims that he was victimized, too. Yet Sandusky's wife Dottie has testified she never suspected her husband was hurting anyone, ever. And the abuse occurred, in part, inside the Sandusky home, while Dottie was reportedly there.
After harrowing, painful testimony from a victim was presented in court, Dottie Sandusky even shared a chuckle with her husband Jerry, the pedophile and serial rapist who anally raped boys and wrote them love letters.
Presuming that Dottie Sandusky is not a pedophile herself, who enjoyed listening in on the suffering of rape victims (something that would require extensive investigation of Mrs. Sandusky, criminally and psychologically), then she lived with a serial rapist and never consciously suspected him of wrongdoing.
How can that be?
One possibility is that Dottie Sandusky's entire life story has been one of burying the facts, again and again, in order to preserve some semblance of normality. Children who are themselves traumatized, again and again--and who never could face just how bad things were--sometimes grow up into adults who are subject to pathological denial--instinctively burying their heads in the sand, because it is what they have always done.
Indeed, people victimized or traumatized in childhood often recreate and attempt to triumph over the earliest chapters of their life stories by selecting spouses who are just as dangerous--full of potential violence-but who don't express it toward them (but may well toward others).
Male predators are on the lookout for these psychologically blind, deaf and dumb women, because they offer camouflage from being seen as deviant. Who better to marry to perpetrate a fiction than someone who has always gravitated toward fiction as an antidote to harsh realities.
Of course, there is another possibility: There are people in the world who have horrifically violent and abusive fantasies, but may swear to themselves and others that they do not. Such individuals may "recruit" destructive people into their lives, in order to vicariously enjoy their aggression. In this way, they are assailants "by proxy."
Assailants by proxy have all the "living on the edge of darkness" excitement that psychopaths do, but they can't be arrested and tried and sentenced to jail, like the assailants themselves. It's a terrible trick on victims and the criminal justice system--and one of the chief ways violence goes viral. The assailant by proxy generally remains free to coddle and shield another guided miscreant missile of a person.
Is Dottie Sandusky an assailant by proxy? I don't know. Perhaps she will tell us in time. Perhaps we'll never really know.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.